CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A man who set sail from South Carolina two months ago was rescued on the overturned hull of his sailboat 200 miles off the coast of North Carolina, and he said he got by rationing his water and praying for help.
"Every day I was like, 'Please God, send me some rain, send me some water,'" Louis Jordan, 37, told WAVY-TV (http://bit.ly/1FpmfUd).
The crew of a German-flagged container ship found Louis Jordan floating on his vessel, the 35-foot Angel, on Thursday afternoon.
Jordan said he initially did not believe the container ship was real when he saw it. He said the ship's crew did not see him until he began waving his arms.
"I waved my hands real slowly, and that's the signal 'I'm in distress help me,'" he told WAVY. "I blew my whistles. I had three whistles. They never heard them. I turned my American flag upside down and put that up. That says, 'rescue me.'"
A Coast Guard helicopter crew from North Carolina airlifted Jordan from the ship to a hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, on Thursday night. He had a shoulder injury and was dehydrated, the Coast Guard and his family said.
But Jordan was in good condition and refused treatment at the facility, according to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital spokesman Dale Gauding. Jordan left the hospital with his parents around 2 a.m. Friday.
Jordan had been living on his sailboat at a marina in Conway, South Carolina, until January, when he told his family he was "going into the open water to sail and do some fishing," said his mother, Norma Davis. He sailed out of the marina on Jan. 23, Coast Guard officials said, and had not been heard from him since.
The details of Jordan's whereabouts since January and how he might have survived for more than two months at sea were still unclear, said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss.
"We don't know where he capsized," Doss said. "We really won't know what happened to him out there until we talk to him" at length, he added, but said Jordan did manage to eat fish he caught while at sea.
Records show Jordan sailed out of the marina in Conway, on Jan. 23, aboard Angel, said Marilyn Fajardo, a spokeswoman for the Coast Guard's 7th District. Fajardo said the Coast Guard in Miami was notified by his father, Frank Jordan, on Jan. 29 that he hadn't seen or heard from his son in a week. One week later, Davis said their son was still missing.
Fajardo said alerts were issued from New Jersey to Miami to be on the lookout for Jordan and his sailboat. Officials also searched financial data to determine whether Jordan actually had come ashore without being noticed but found no such indication, she said.
A search began Feb. 8, but Fajardo said the Coast Guard abandoned its efforts after 10 days. Some sailors reporting seeing Jordan's sailboat, but none of the sightings were confirmed. The case was suspended.
The Coast Guard said Jordan didn't file a "float plan," the nautical equivalent of a flight plan, to determine his route or destination, and Fajardo said there wasn't enough information to narrow down his whereabouts.
"We're elated that he survived. We were never able to determine where he was headed," Doss said. "Without that as part of the equation, it was difficult to come up with a search area."
In a Coast Guard audio recording of the first post-rescue contact with his father, Louis Jordan says, "I haven't heard you in so long."
Frank Jordan tells him: "I'm so glad that you're still alive. We prayed and prayed and we hoped that you were still alive, so that's all that matters."
Associated Press writers Bruce Smith in Charleston, S.C., and Pam Ramsey in Charleston, W.Va., contributed to this report.